Remarkable natural landscapes, bountiful wildlife, history-steeped cities and a fascinating tribal heritage make this East African country a must visit.
Think of Kenya and images of safari treks and untouched wilderness probably come to mind. But this captivating East African nation doesn’t just comprise epic savannah; it also offers cosmopolitan cities, historic towns with narrow winding streets and tropical beaches galore.
More than 47 million people, representing a diverse range of ethnicities and tribes, call Kenya home. Swahili and English are the country’s national languages, though many Kenyans will speak a tribal language with their own family or community. Take the time to learn a few phrases in Swahili before heading to Kenya. Useful phrases include the popular greeting, “Jambo!”
Visit Nairobi to experience modern Kenya. Discover preserved Kenyan artifacts and artwork at the Nairobi National Museum. Just under 2 miles (3 kilometers) northwest of the city center is the Nairobi Arboretum. Have a picnic here and be alert to spot some of the resident monkeys and birds. Just south of Nairobi is Nairobi National Park, a vast expanse of plains and forest where zebras, rhinos, cheetahs and lions wander free.
Kenya’s animal conversation sites are not to be missed. Feed the giraffes at the Giraffe Center in Langata. Just north of Nairobi, take a tour of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which includes the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. See elephant calves at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, where elephants and rhinos who need specialized treatment and care are taken in.
Other popular wildlife-watching destinations include the scenic geological fault line, the Great Rift Valley, where millions of flamingos congregate on lakes. For a more traditional sun and sand vacation, head for the white-sand beaches of Watamu on the Indian Ocean coast.
The most common entry point into Kenya is via a flight into Nairobi’s international airport. To travel around the more populated towns in Kenya, take a “matatu.” These privately owned minibuses serve most major roads and suburbs. Find reliable taxi services, including boda-bodas (bicycle or motorcycle taxis) in Kenya’s smaller towns and cities.
In addition to city breaks and remote safari treks, you can also visit small Kenyan villages to meet native tribes and witness local traditions.